What Happens to the Food You Don’t Buy?

You know when you go to the store and notice that a fruit’s price has gone up? Maybe you think, “Well, I need this for a pie, so I’m buying it anyway.” Some other people might have to give up and buy something else–or go home empty-handed. Not being able to afford food is a sad reality for many people.

Now, imagine that you are doing your shopping at a big retailer in Australia. After you buy what you need, you go around the parking lot and find a big dumpster behind the store. You open it. You cannot believe your eyes.

It’s full to the brim with fresh veggies and fruit that are not even ripe yet. You walk a couple more yards and find another bin. It is locked, but you can open it just enough to see what’s inside: fancy cheese, bottles of wine, artisan bread, candy bars….

The security guard comes along and tells you to leave. They say you can’t have that food because “they don’t want you to get sick.” All that food, enough to feed at least five families for weeks, is waiting for collection. It will all rot in a landfill.

“Unfortunately, if you go back on the following week, you will realize that the dumpsters are full again. We like to think that supermarkets would only throw food away if it is contaminated, expired or bad. That is not what happens,” Alberto Peixoto, a member of the dumpster diving community, said. He checks the bins from his local grocery store every week and uses the food he finds to feed his family. He also shares the excess with friends.